The Q&A format of academia.SE is limited when it comes to questions where someone just needs advice or a brief therapy session from a formless elder in the ivory tower. Yet many people (especially those new to SE and unfamiliar with the format) ask away anyway. Then they either get closed or get a flurry of attention and opinions that are probably not really what they were looking for in the first place.

I've been wondering if there's a better way to process such questions without overwhelming or shutting down a real person in real distress. Already there are mechanisms that suggest if someone's question might be a duplicate or opinion-based when someone is typing a question. This is great. But would it possible to also refer the question-asker to chat? Such a feature might even help with question qualitiy in the long run, because the question-asker would have a chance to work out the kinks in chat and then, if they still deem it necessary, post a question.

This question is related: Better use of the chat room: Discussion groups proposal?. In fact, I think my proposal would help achieve the OP's goal of utilizing chat more.

  • I don't know whether the SE staff can implement such request or not (and whether they'd be willing to implement it), but take into account two things: i) to use the chatroom one should have at least 20 rep, and most of the users that are in distress, and have trouble asking questions, are newcomers with 1 rep; ii) our chat is not particularly populated and the chances of getting an answer there may be thin. Nov 20, 2019 at 16:20
  • I think the current process works to a great extent, i.e. we use comments to tell the OP what to improve and how to improve their questions. SE allows the asker, even 1 rep point to write comment under their own questions. I think this is better than the chat room. If the comment thread is too long, a user can open a chat room or the OP can flag the mod to move the comments into a chat room to continue to chat. As far as I can see, it ain't broken yet, no need to fix.
    – Nobody
    Nov 22, 2019 at 5:25
  • 3
    Also, my personal experience (I actually did the kind of things you suggest) is that many users got the useful info/solution/suggestions, they just left. Never improve the question, never come back. After a while, the chat room would freeze. No one would read the contents. That's it. After a few such instances, I stopped doing that.
    – Nobody
    Nov 22, 2019 at 9:50
  • @scaaahu Bummer, but makes sense.
    – user108403
    Nov 22, 2019 at 10:00


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